by Tess Pender
Avoiding the Trap of the Spiritual Bypass
It is easy to fall into the trap of a spiritual bypass. We find one easy explanation early in addiction recovery. It is common for newbie recovering addicts, however, learning of a “higher power” to throw themselves into spirituality.
They sit in tattooed glory, coffee in one hand and cigarette in the other, and smile soulfully while sharing their newly discovered spiritual superiority. They never lose their tempers, harbor no thoughts of revenge, never judge anyone (except those who haven’t attained enlightenment). The only others to exhibit this behavior are Catholic-school products raised on “Lives of the Martyrs.”
The danger of this spiritual bypass is relapse. Adopting a guru instead of doing the work of spiritual growth builds no foundation. The chakra system is one road map to spiritual growth. And each chakra has traps and hooks for those in a rush to enlightenment.
Negate the Spiritual Bypass with Focus on Energies
The first, or root chakra, is the center of security. Its hooks are fears about safety and survival. Hooks in the first chakra were installed early. The panic of the food addict facing an empty refrigerator, the safety beckoning to the gambler by the score – we must, therefore, face these to escape the clutches of the first chakra. The work is to understand and believe that safety only lies in one’s own grounding, the commitment to self. This isn’t a single, “once done and over” step, but is the basis for the “three-step waltz” familiar in early recovery.
The second chakra rules emotions, sexuality, creativity and the sense of self. The hook is evident in sex and love addicts’ behavior, falling for the same “bad boy” in different clothes. Thus, the work is to be at peace with emotions – welcome them, name them, learn that they are not all-powerful. Reclaiming the sacred self from the ravages of “needing love,” from emotional orgies, and sensual desires is a steep part of the mountain – and normally has many slips down the side.
The Work of Setting Boundaries & Loving Self
Related to the second chakra is the third – the place of boundaries and will. Learning to set and hold boundaries is difficult, but possible. The real trap comes in learning to respect others’ boundaries, to allow them to be themselves! The slogan associated with the third chakra is “What you think of me is none of my business.” This sneaky trap explains why co-dependency is harder to overcome than addiction – and why it kills people sooner than any drug. The work of the third chakra is to develop a functional adult persona – a challenging task for every “stuck in adolescence” addict!
After the work of the lower three chakras, the path to spiritual awakening starts to get hard! The fourth chakra is the heart center – the home of love and compassion. During a spiritual bypass, the seeker thinks the job is to love and accept everybody. Sorry, but no – the work is to love the Self, embrace the Self with all its flaws, and shower yourself with compassion. This is the step of coming out of the closet – taking to the streets to declare, “I Was Born This Way!” with Lady Gaga.
Truth Telling & Knowing to Avoid Spiritual Bypass
The fifth chakra rules the throat and demands truth. This is also where pleasant lies stop – the lies to yourself, the white lies to others. One trap is confusing rudeness with truth. There is no need to share passing thoughts or judgments! Learning that one’s thoughts are not the truths the world needs to hear is a shock to the ego, and a necessary step on the road to enlightenment! The work of the fourth chakra is facing the truth about one’s own self, by “coming out of the closet” of self-deceit.
The third eye (between the brows) is the chakra of knowing. The work is claiming one’s knowledge, recognizing the truth seen, and letting go of all the little denials that make life easy (‘he loves me, even when he’s mean to me’). The work is to claim one’s intuition and release denial and hiding. Another trap is getting too impressed with knowing, and believing in a “unique gift”!
Connecting, Awakening, & Remaining True
Finally, the crown chakra is the connection to the universe, to infinite truth, to God, however, you envision our source. The work is to surrender to God’s plan – whoever your god is and however frightening the plan! The traps are many – the “spiritual bypass” (deciding that being spiritual allows one to skip all the work of the other chakras), becoming a guru who tells others how to live, becoming a sacrifice who has no wants or because you are so “sacred”.
The chakras (or energy centers, from the Sanskrit for “wheel”) provide a path and road map to spiritual awakening, but it is a rocky path, and the map has many dead ends along the way. The hardest lessons in saying no to the spiritual bypass are to enjoy the journey, release the goal, and love the traveler. Happy trails to you!
About the Author
Tess Pender is an Ordained Interfaith Minister, active in twelve-step programs for over thirty years. Her spiritual practice blossomed in Native American Sweat Lodges under the guidance of a Medicine Woman. She also led a Teen Spiritual Education Program for four years, and teaches classes on accessing intuition. She practices Earth-Centered Spirituality, and co-founded two Wicca-inspired groups. Connect with Tess at: www.facebook.com/Rev-Tess-Interfaith-Minister-1333335763419001/
Source: OM Times